Ads in P2P-shared films? BT is trialling it

BT is trialing a new service which will allow non-skipable video advertising to be embedded in films which can then be freely shared across the Internet, including P2P platforms like BitTorrent. The advertising is served by Hiro Media, a three-year old privately-backed Israeli startup which has developed a (patent-pending) codec for Windows media player, allowing it to send a targeted advert to a video file put out by BT.

The move is pretty significant, since a technology like this – if successful – would potentially make Hollywood studio’s objection to P2P file-sharing null and void. According to Hiro Media you can’t skip the ads or remove them without making the film unwatchable. But it does mean the file could go anywhere on the Net and still show adverts based on the user’s preferences when the registered to get the codec. Hiro’s service is not a P2P one but sends the ad content discretely in the user’s downtime.

NBC’s service, and Israel’s TV station Reshet are also trialling the service, but the BT move is the first major one in Europe. BT Vision, BT’s IPTV service, will trial the service providing free via BT’s online store, available to 14 million UK users, regardless of which internet service provider they use.

The trial will start with three free films, Mischief Night, Played and The Punk Rock Movie. Once downloaded, the film will be available for one month and providing the viewer is online, at each viewing different ads will be shown inside the video. Ads are tailored to the viewers’ tastes using anonymous demographic information, which the user submits when they register for the service. Initial advertisers include the AA, Norwich Union and the Territorial Army. Viewers can also send the films to friends via email to be viewed on the same terms. The trial will run for three months.